A Master Plan in Progress
The city hosted an open house earlier this week on Northern’s campus for the purpose of gathering information about the future of Marquette. It was a good chance for community members to speak with city leaders as well as provide input regarding what to include in the new community Master Plan. According to the project’s website, the Master Plan is the document which provides a long-term vision for Marquette and guides future policies based on data and community input. The website can be found here: https://marquette-master-plan-bria2.hub.arcgis.com.
Do you remember how engaged the public was the last time the city went through this process? I don’t, because I don’t think citizens were nearly as interested in participating in such a governmental project. Times have changed, as evidenced by the turnout at this most recent event, seen above.
According to Dennis Stachewicz, the city’s Director of Planning and Community Development, “The turnout was absolutely amazing. We had more than 500 people attend the open house from various backgrounds (residents, non-resident employers, employees, retirees, youth, and students).”
It seems that unwelcome development along the lakeshore, a new mixed-use neighborhood in the works at the site of the old hospital, the paucity of affordable, or “workforce” housing, and crowded public areas due to our newfound popularity have finally gotten residents’ attention.
It’ll take a while for all the data collected to be processed and evaluated, but one hopes the city plans on giving public input the attention it deserves. There’s no reason to think they won’t, otherwise, why go through the effort of public hearings and online surveys? Though that won’t stop some from accusing city leaders of following their own agendas, or worse, those of local powerbrokers only in it for a buck.
The thinking here is that public input will be taken seriously. And why not? Commissioners serve at the pleasure of voters, and city managers serve at the pleasure of the commission. In other words, the people still have power, and it’s in the best interest of elected officials to respect that and react accordingly. Marquette resident Barb Owdziej, who currently serves on a couple city boards, attended the open house and has a similar opinion. “I think the city is sincere, and I believe the elected commissioners take their positions seriously enough to honor the residents’ concerns. Whether these priorities are able to penetrate the entire city operations, I remain cautiously optimistic.”
“I continue to maintain that Marquette is an engaged community that has a passion for the city,” says Stachewicz. He and other city staffers usually only hear from residents when there’s a problem. The Master Plan process allows for a positive exchange of ideas, in a more forward-thinking manner. Ultimately, when all the stakeholders are at the table, they’re better able to affect their own investments.
If you missed the open house, Stachewicz says there will be more opportunities to contribute, like a virtual meeting, once material already gathered has been refined and evaluated.
The point is… if you don’t participate now, your future complaints will be too little, too late.
We don’t call it “global warming” anymore. It’s now referred to as “climate change.” Regardless, whatever the name, it definitely bit us in the butt as warm temperatures, AND RAIN IN THE U.P. IN FEBRUARY… caused the cancellation of one of our flagship events… the U.P. 200 Sled Dog Race.
I’m sure race organizers didn’t make this decision lightly. After all, they work year-round and recruit hundreds of local volunteers as well as a number of participating communities to pull off this beloved event. To cancel it requires a genuine commitment to the safety of the sled dog teams and all the people helping and watching.
Darlene Walch, President of the UP Sled Dog Association says participants have been understanding. “Mushers have spent months training, and while disappointed at not racing, they also recognize and appreciate the need for safe trails. Trails can be challenging and not perfect but there is a point where trails are not safe.”
The bummer felt by most of us has been alleviated somewhat by the announcement of a replacement event to be held downtown at the same time and place where we would have been watching the dog teams start their trek across the northern U.P.
According to Derek Hall, chief marketing officer at NMU, event organizers are pivoting to a family friendly event that will offer plenty of reasons to keep your plans in place for going downtown tonight.
Here are the deets as released this morning… Snow will be brought in and a short track will be created on Washington Street. Several mushers will be there with their teams. A sledding hill will be created on Third Street from Washington down to the Marquette Commons. With the addition of Double Trouble Entertainment as a sponsor, the event will also feature music, food and games for all. Additionally, the NMU and Michigan Tech mushing clubs are teaming up to provide dog sled rides thanks to the valiant effort of Oberstar Inc. by bringing in fresh snow for all to enjoy.
Ross Anthony, UPDSA board member says, “While we are disappointed that the weather did not cooperate with this year’s running of the dog sled races, we will still come together as a community and celebrate what the UP 200 means to the region.”
The stand-in event sounds like fun. As a thank you to those working overtime to make lemonade out of lemons, or in this case… to make mush out of slush, consider heading downtown to show your support.
Keeping up with the Speed Limit
Circling back to a previous post I did about the dangerous conditions along M-553 by Rippling River and Marquette Mountain, one reader suggested there was legislation in the works to allow municipalities more input into speed limits within their jurisdiction.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to substantiate that. And, according to officials I reached out to, as well as the obligatory Google search, I found no such effort in the works.
New State Representative Jenn Hill responded with the following… “My office is studying the applicable laws and researching past attempts to make changes to the speed limit setting process, which runs through MDOT and the Michigan State Police. We want to fully evaluate the options before taking direct action. It’s also important to me that we engage with local officials to find a solution that improves state accountability and gives our local governments, residents and businesses a seat at the table.”
Sounds good, but I think we need a little more urgency. When everybody… and I mean everybody, thinks there’s a problem, we shouldn’t have to wait so long for a solution. We’ll be keeping this on our radar here at Word on the Street hoping we don’t see a tragedy before a remedy.